Remember – We Want to See Problems

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Ok, you’ve followed your formula for your lean transformation.  Maybe you value stream mapped, put in some standard work, developed some pull systems, improved your critical changeover times, trained all your teammates, and ran a few simulations.  Now the big moment comes and you flip the switch on the system.  You are now running to the new principles and methods.  What happens next?

Well if you designed your system to truly follow the lean ideals, you have PROBLEMS!  That’s the whole point!  Make your problems visible instead of hiding them with inventory, extra labor, long lead times, etc.  Problems are a good thing but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people flipping out when the new lean systems aren’t perfect!

I’ve even seen production leadership yell and scream at the teams that they are sick and tired of the problems.  Caution, this is not the time to get excited and tell your team to hide the problems and recreate the “icebergs” like before.  Stay calm, analyze the situation, and teach your team to solve the system deficiencies.  Utilize A3’s, five why’s, quick and easy kaizen, whatever fits.  But do not let them revert to the old ways and abandon the system.  This is a crucial time to be a leader.  Everyone of your teammates, their families, and in many cases the community depends on you to stay the course and make your journey work.

So as you progress down your path, remember how important it is to be able to see the problems and empower your teams to solve them based on the principles you have taught them.  The chaos that always entails from flipping the switch will improve and so will your business results!

Bryan

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4 Responses

  1. One of the challenges to moving into a culture that welcomes problems is that the lean people put more effort into designing how problems will be found and surfaced than they put into how they will be responded to. The reaction, or respond mechanism, to surfaced problems is what ultimately affects the culture. We need to think as much about problem management as we do problem solving.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh
    Lean Learning Center

    • Great point Jamie! Mark Rosenthal at The Lean Thinker blog has addressed in the past here:

      http://theleanthinker.com/2010/01/20/overburdened-with-andon-calls/.

      It is something that is commonly overlooked and very frustrating when there has been little planning around managing the issues!

      Thanks
      Bryan

  2. […] Remember – We Want to See Problems by Bryan Zeigler – “Well if you designed your system to truly follow the lean ideals, you have problems! That’s the whole point! Make your problems visible instead of hiding them with inventory, extra labor, long lead times, etc.” […]

  3. You do have to wonder, if something like this occurs: “I’ve even seen production leadership yell and scream at the teams that they are sick and tired of the problems.”

    What they believe Lean will do for them? Implementing the value stream maps, standardized work, training, etc. is trying to cure a disease by treating the symptoms. If those things are implemented in a culture that is so thin on the leadership styles necessary for transformation to take place, there’s little reason to be surprised that intimidation was the first tool to be used when the transformation didn’t occur.

    The problem lies in trying to insert the things that work in a Lean environment without understanding why they work. Developing a learning culture, supported by a learning leadership, would facilitate the implementation, rather than the other way around.

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